A script that is written up and greenlit for production will likely see some changes before it is filmed and hits the screen. The actors and directors who are involved with the project will have their own input and opinions on how certain scenes should play out, so the scripted dialogue will receive minor changes and edits before the cameras start rolling.
This is usually a positive change, as it’s hard for even the best screenwriter to anticipate how certain speeches will sound when they are spoken by actors for the first time.
There are some actors who have a greater deal of creative control over a project than others, due to the fact that they are playing iconic roles.
For example, if you are filming the next Die Hard movie, then you have to cater to Bruce Willis, because who else are you going to get to play the role of John McClane?
The creative control that certain actors wield can also be used to diminish or expand the roles of their co-stars. There have been times when major changes have been made to movies due to these kinds of demands being made.
The producers will often have no other choice than to acquiesce to these demands, regardless of the opinions of the actors whose role has just been totally altered on the whim of a colleague.
We are here today to look at the demands of actors that resulted in their co-star’s roles being changed– from the Resident Evil franchise being threatened by professional jealousy to the vocal silence on the set of Star Trek.
Here are the 15 Actors Who Demanded Their Co-Stars’ Roles Be Changed!
15 Milla Jovovich > Michelle Rodriguez In Resident Evil
The Resident Evil movie franchise has pulled in over a billion dollars at the box office. This staggering amount of success almost never came to pass, due to jealousy on the part of the lead actress.
Milla Jovovich was cast as Alice in the first Resident Evil movie, but her protagonist status was threatened by Michelle Rodriguez, who was cast as Rain.
Rodriguez had just come off the success of Girlfight, so her role in Resident Evil was increased and many of the action set pieces were given to her.
When Milla Jovovich discovered the changes to the script, she flipped out and threatened to walk if the changes weren’t reversed.
She met up with Paul W. S. Anderson (the director) and went through the script page by page until it was changed. Jovovich has actually credited this event as starting the romantic relationship between her and Anderson.
14 Ed Norton > Anthony Hopkins In Red Dragon
Edward Norton has earned a reputation for being difficult to work with and wanting excessive control over the creative direction of many of the projects he has worked on.
This is said to be the reason why he was replaced for the role of Bruce Banner in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Edward Norton is known for several uncredited rewrites of scripts, which include movies like Frida and The Incredible Hulk.
It seems he also tried to do some uncredited rewrites on Red Dragon, as he showed up on the set with freshly written scenes for both himself and Anthony Hopkins to act out. This led to on-set friction between Norton and Brett Ratner, who was the director of the movie.
13 Tom Cruise > Sofia Boutella In The Mummy
The Mummy was the first movie in the so-called “Dark Universe,” which was intended to be a cinematic universe composed of retooled versions of the old Universal movie monsters.
Tom Cruise was a huge get for Universal Pictures, as it helped to elevate the status of The Mummy and his presence likely contributed to the huge overseas box office profits for the movie.
In order to bring Tom Cruise on board for The Mummy, the producers had to give him an unprecedented level of control over the project.
This resulted in a total change of the script, as Cruise’s character and the titular mummy (played by Sofia Boutella) were originally going to have an equal amount of screen time.
Cruise and his people changed the script so that his character became the focus of the movie and Boutella’s role was diminished as a result.
12 William Shatner > The Cast Of Star Trek: The Original Series
The cast of Star Trek: The Original Series has had a lot of negative things to say about William Shatner’s conduct on the set, with actors like George Takei and James Doohan talking about how difficult it was to work with Shatner in their respective autobiographies.
One of the main points of contention regarding William Shatner revolved around his insistence on changing certain lines and scenes so that Captain Kirk became the focus of the story.
This resulted in Shatner butting heads with Leonard Nimoy, due to Spock becoming the most popular character on the show. George Takei has discussed how the set was shut down during one of the many disputes between Shatner and Nimoy.
It wasn’t just Spock who fell beneath the growing shadow of Kirk, however.
Every principal cast member (and a few guest stars) has talked about how William Shatner bullied directors and producers into altering the script on the day in order to make Kirk the focus of Star Trek.
11 Bruce Willis > Chelsea Field In The Last Boy Scout
An actor may be reticent to take a role if they are afraid it is too similar to parts they have played in the past, as they want to avoid being typecast.
This was the case with Bruce Willis and The Last Boy Scout, which led to a lot of changes to the script that didn’t occur until the movie had already started production.
The main cause behind a lot of the changes in The Last Boy Scout were related to Die Hard.
The original script for The Last Boy Scout had a much larger focus on Bruce Willis saving his wife, which was also a major part of Die Hard, so Willis fought for the role of the wife to be diminished.
This meant that Chelsea Field (who was cast as Willis’ wife in the movie) had her scenes changed and her role reduced after filming had already begun.
10 Sylvester Stallone > Julia Nickson In Rambo: First Blood Part II
Rambo: First Blood Part II was written by James Cameron during the period when he was preparing for the original Terminator movie.
Cameron has admitted that he only took the Rambo job for the money, but he is also reticent to take any credit for the movie, as he claims that the story was almost totally rewritten by Sylvester Stallone.
James Cameron claims that his version of Rambo: First Blood Part II had less violence and more of a focus on the morality of Rambo’s actions.
These changes extended to Co-Bao, who was played by Julia Nickson. The character of Co had much more depth in the Cameron version of the script, especially in regards to her desire to travel to America, which ended up being diminished in Stallone’s version of the script.
9 Dwayne Johnson > Jason Liles In Rampage
The majority of the entries on this list were born out of selfishness or vanity. This entry is the exception, as Dwayne Johnson almost walked out of a role in order to keep one of the characters in the movie.
Dwayne Johnson starred in the screen adaptation of Rampage, which was a famous arcade game from the ’80s.
Johnson’s character befriends and teams up with an albino gorilla, named George, who was “played” by Jason Liles, who performed all of the motion capture for the ape.
The original ending of the script called for George to succumb to his wounds. Dwayne Johnson was a huge fan of the script but demanded that the ending be changed to one that was more positive, with George surviving the events of the movie.
This was a deal-breaker, with Johnson threatening to walk if the ending wasn’t changed.
8 Jim Caviezel > Ashley Judd In High Crimes
Jim Cavaziel is a deeply religious man, which is fitting when you consider that his most famous role is that of Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ.
He takes his faith so seriously that he has insisted upon his co-stars putting on more clothes during love scenes due to his devotion to his wife.
It was during the filming of High Crimes that Jim Cavaziel threatened to walk off the set if his co-star Ashley Judd didn’t add a few layers during a romantic scene in the movie.
The director acquiesced to this demand and Judd had to slip into something less comfortable.
Ashley Judd isn’t the only actor who needed to button up during a love scene with Jim Cavaziel, as he also insisted that Jennifer Lopez wear a top during a romantic scene in Angel Eyes.
7 Rhea Perlman > Jay Thomas In Cheers
It’s not the smartest idea to insult a more influential co-star on a national radio show, but then again, no one ever said Jay Thomas was the brightest bulb in the box.
Jay Thomas was a famous radio host who managed to move into acting. He landed a prominent role in Cheers as Eddie LeBec, who would go on to marry Carla the waitress.
This meant that Thomas had to play a romantic role with Rhea Perlman, who was playing one of the most popular characters on the show.
Jay Thomas complained about having to kiss Rhea Perlman on his radio show, which infuriated her.
Perlman insisted that Thomas be written out of the show, which meant that his character perished off-screen during the eighth season of Cheers.
6 Hulk Hogan > Jeff Jarrett In WCW (Bash at the Beach 2000)
It might seem strange to include professional wrestlers on this list, but Hulk Hogan represents a unique example due to the nature of his contract with WCW.
Hulk Hogan had successfully bargained for creative control over his character, which meant that he could veto decisions regarding matches that he was in, meaning that he never had to lose if he didn’t want to.
Hulk Hogan’s creative control led to an incident at Bash at the Beach 2000 where Vince Russo (the booker at the time) wanted Jeff Jarrett to win his match against Hogan, so that he could lose to Booker T in the final bout of the night.
The Hulkster refused to lose, which resulted in the finish being changed so that Jarrett just laid down on the ground and allowed himself to be pinned.
Vince Russo then came out and cut a scathing promo against Hulk Hogan, which resulted in a nasty lawsuit.
5 José Canseco > Marcia Wallace In The Simpsons
“Homer at the Bat” is considered to be one of the best episodes of the classic era of The Simpsons, which is no small praise. This was the episode that featured vocal performances from nine of the best Major League Baseball players of the ’90s.
The creative staff who worked on “Homer at the Bat” have had nothing but praise for the baseball players who worked on the episode, save for José Canseco, who demanded that his original role in the episode be changed.
The original story for “Homer at the Bat” involved José Canseco missing the big game because he ended up in bed with Edna Krabappel.
José Canseco and his then-wife objected to this storyline, which resulted in Canseco missing the game due to being held up by heroically saving the possessions from a stranger’s burning house.
4 Michael Douglas > Val Kilmer In The Ghost and the Darkness
There is a good chance that The Ghost and the Darkness would never have been made if it weren’t for the interest of Michael Douglas, who had just moved his production company to Paramount and was looking for projects to take on.
Douglas’ interest in The Ghost and the Darkness meant that the story of the movie had to be changed, as he decided to take on a minor role in the film and increased its relevance.
The Ghost and the Darkness was originally meant to star Val Kilmer as the lead of the movie, but Michael Douglas altered the script so that his role was just as important as Kilmer’s character.
This meant changing the story so that both actors had equal billing, which also influenced the promotion of the movie.
3 Steven Tyler > Peter Frampton In Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Peter Frampton might be one of the most acclaimed rock musicians of all time, but that meant nothing to Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, who refused to pretend to perish at Frampton’s hands.
The fictional battle between the two musicians was intended to take place in the story of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, where the members of Aerosmith played a villainous rock band from the future.
The script called for Peter Frampton to slay Steven Tyler’s character, but this caused the members of Aerosmith to threaten to walk, as Tyler refused to allow himself to appear to be offed by Peter Frampton on the screen.
The script was changed so that Steven Tyler’s character was pushed to his doom by Sandy Farina instead, even though she is far more petite and far less imposing than Peter Frampton.
2 Kirk Cameron > The Cast of Growing Pains
Kirk Cameron had famously managed to get Julie McCullough fired from Growing Pains, as she had previously been a Playboy centerfold.
Cameron did this due to finding religion during his time on the show, which led to a lot of behind-the-scenes issues that the producers were forced to cater to.
Kirk Cameron has discussed how he insisted upon last-minute script changes for the cast of Growing Pains, due to finding some of the material offensive.
This included altering any sort of scene that made his character look promiscuous. The other actors on Growing Pains would then have to learn new material and prepare for brand new scenes while on the set in order for Cameron to agree to continue working on the show.
1 America Ferrera > Lindsay Lohan In Ugly Betty
It’s not unheard of for actors and actresses to feud while making a TV show. This can make for a toxic work environment, as two colliding egos can make it hard for anyone to back down and resolve matters in a grown-up fashion.
You would think that America Ferrera would have been able to deal with Lindsay Lohan’s antics on the set of Ugly Betty, as Lohan was only due to appear in six episodes of the show.
The animosity between the two actors led to Ferrera demanding that Lohan’s role be cut down, leading to a six-episode arc being reduced to four.
The reasons for this change are due to Lindsay Lohan’s behavior on the set, which included trashing a dressing room and an incident during rehearsals that involved America Ferrera pulling down Lohan’s pants, which resulted in Lohan leaving in tears.
Can you think of any other actors who demanded that their co-stars’ parts be rewritten? Sound off in the comments!